Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Federal budget passes House, State pushes bioscience bill, Presidential address tonight

Yesterday at the Capitol

Federal FY2009 budget movement
Yesterday in Washington D.C., House Democrats presented a proposal to fund government through the end of the current fiscal year. Along with an eight percent increase in spending over the last fiscal year, the proposal includes earmarks. Currently, the federal government is operating under a continuous resolution which has extended the FY2008 federal budget into FY2009.

Bills move forward in Business, Industry and Jobs committee
The Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee met yesterday to hear bills, including SF 684, authored by Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, and SF 456, sponsored by Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato. Both bills expand the bioscience business development public infrastructure grant program to include higher education facilities. Because both bills were very similar and were aimed at achieving the same objective, Sen. Sheran withdrew her bill and added her support to SF 684.

Sheran offered an amendment requiring that grant recipients provide for the remainder of the public infrastructure costs related to projects from other sources. The committee approved the amended bill and sent it to the full Senate.

SF 643, authored by Sen. Sheran was also heard. This bill provides eligibility for unemployment benefits to workers who receive reduced hours while taking skills training programs associated with the workforce investment in regional economic development (WIRED) program. The bill is designed to give financial relief to companies facing possible layoffs in response to the downturn in the economy because it allows the employees to work reduced hours, attend classes under the WIRED program and retain partial unemployment benefits, said Sheran. Sheran also said the bill helps companies retain skilled persons that it may have otherwise had to lay off, while giving employees a chance to get extra training without a significant loss in income brought about by a layoff. The committee approved the bill and re-referred it to the Finance Committee.

Today at the Capitol

Presidential address at 8:00 p.m. tonight
The major networks will televise President Barack Obama's joint address to Congress tonight. This address is the inaugural year equivalent to the annual State of the Union address. In addition to promoting the economic stimulus bill, it is expected that President Obama will present his plans for action on health care, energy, education and the budget deficit. Obama is also expected to touch on foreign policy. This address comes two days before he delivers a budget blueprint to Congress.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

No comments: